Hilton C. Buley Library

Southern Connecticut State University

Buley Library New Front of Building

A Brief History

The SCSU Library is named after former President Hilton C. Buley, who led the university from 1954-1971. On October 31, 1970, about four months before his retirement, Southern celebrated the opening and dedication of the library in his honor.

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President Hilton C. Buley

The SCSU Library is named after former President Hilton C. Buley, who led the university from 1954-1971. On October 31, 1970, about four months before his retirement, Southern celebrated the opening and dedication of the library in his honor.

Buley Library Construction

Many of the modern features in the library reflected Dr. Buley’s reputation as a pioneer in advancing technological instruction. The space featured playback phones to explain how to use library resources and housed a computer center for instruction and data processing needs. Under his leadership, the university was among the first in the nation to offer courses on television, and was a leader in the development of multi-media instruction. The library also featured shelves for 500,000 volumes and flexible space that could be converted, if necessary, to accommodate double that number.

Buley Library Construction

In the eighties, however, the library was frequently closed for renovations and concurrently suffered from insufficient budgeting. In 1992, it was cited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) as lagging behind as compared with the rest of the university, which prompted the two decades of improvements that have finally reached completion.

Buley Library Windows Move

The $31 million renovation project enables the university to boast a library that is 245,000 square feet, which includes the original wing, as well as the 135,000 square foot addition that was completed in 2008. It also includes a new 12,000-square-foot area encompassing an atrium and skywalk connecting the two sections of the building on the first and third floors.

Buley Library Interior
Buley Library Books
Buley library equipment
Buley Library addition
Buley Library exterior old
Buley interior


Cost: $31 million

Architect: Oak Park Architects, West Hartford

Construction Manager: Skanska, New Haven

Size: 245,000 square feet (includes 2008 addition)

Floors: 4

Exterior: Red brick and concrete


100 + databases and electronic collections

500,000 + items including books, serials and serial back files, microforms, maps, government documents, rare books, video media, and more

Five floors including two computer labs, large open seating spaces, a cafe, an art gallery, the Learning Resources Center, a library instruction classroom, and quiet rooms for individual or group study

Rare Book Room/Special Collections

Tiffany Windows Come Home to Buley

Tiffany Window

The crown jewels of Buley Library have returned home after several years away.

Four magnificent stained-glass windows were recently reinstalled in the library after being removed while the building was undergoing construction. Two arched windows, known as the “Hector” window and the “Water Brooks” window, among three donated by the First Church of Christ in New Haven, are considered masterful examples of the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany. Along with a third arched window known as “The Angel of Praise,” the “Hector” and “Water Brooks” windows are now on the south side of the first floor of the renovated section of the library, near the Reference Desk and computer area. These windows were originally donated to the university in the 1960s and installed in Buley in 1972. A fourth window, known as the “Congregational” window — donated by the North Stonington Congregational Church in the 1990s — is also on the south side, in the two-level reading area that starts on the second floor of the connector between the original library building and the addition built in recent years. Both locations illuminate the windows with natural light during the day and are also be visible at night from the outside.

The three arched windows were the first major works of art the university acquired for permanent exhibition. They were originally installed for public display in the library’s main reading lounge, set in shadow boxes with back lighting. It was believed that this manner of displaying the windows was the first incidence of former church windows being exhibited as art works in a public building, aside from museums. The windows were removed when construction began on the library, and they were restored and kept in storage until their new home became ready for them.

The Tiffany windows are considered to be fine examples of the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933), a renowned designer, painter, and craftsman who remains one of America’s most influential and celebrated artists. Tiffany founded the Tiffany Glass Company on December 1, 1885. He focused on new methods of glass manufacture, and before opening his studio, he had registered a patent for opalescent window glass, in which several colors were combined and altered to create an inconceivable range of hues and three-dimensional effects. Tiffany devoted himself to “the pursuit of beauty” and the elevation of American Arts and Crafts into a fine art.

Tiffany’s studio achieved national and international recognition when he was commissioned to produce stained-glass windows for the interior homes of Mark Twain, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and the White House under President Chester A. Arthur. Tiffany’s unparalleled style – reflected most notably in his glass vases, tiles, mosaics, and particularly his glass table lamps and lampshades – greatly influenced the Art Nouveau movement. The artistic pieces he produced between the 1890s and 1918 were dazzling, exquisite, exotic, and of the highest quality, thus forever joining his name with the ideal of elegance.

Unfortunately, by the time of his death in 1933, there had been a decline in the interest and popularity of the Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles, matched by a drop in the market for Tiffany’s works. With the advent of the Art Moderne and Expressionist movements, the popularity of Tiffany’s signature design and style was diminished.

It was Dr. Robert Koch, (Professor Emeritus, 1918-2003) a decorative arts expert and Louis C. Tiffany’s biographer, who set in motion a revival of interest in Tiffany’s Art Nouveau glasswork designs.

His scholarly infusion into Tiffany’s legacy led to a resurgence in popularity and increased demand for Tiffany works. Born in New York City and educated at Harvard and New York universities, Koch served in the United States Army from 1942 to 1945 and in 1958 earned a doctorate in art history at Yale University.

For over 20 years, he served as a faculty member and was an art historian in the Art Department at Southern. Upon his retirement, Koch’s significant contributions earned him professor emeritus status. He was the author of several books on Tiffany, and he donated rare Tiffany works to several museums. Koch was responsible for the donation to Southern of the Tiffany windows.

Tiffany Window

Tiffany Windows Photo Gallery

View Gallery

A New Home for Special Collections

Mid-summer should see Special Collections in its new home in the renovated section of Buley. For those readers with long memories we are now located on the ground floor where the serials stacks were once found. The entrance is on the left side of the grand staircase across from the new art gallery.

The new area has 4,300 square feet, a slight fraction above the 2001 architectural program of 4,286, and about twice our space before the renovation. Not only is there more space, however, it is consolidated space. The old rare book room was only about 630 square feet and most materials were spread in other locations including the library loading dock and the sub-basement of Engleman. In those days each area was supervised by the librarian closest, whereas the new will be a stand-alone facility designed for two full-time staff members as well as student workers. When these are hired it will be open 9:00 to 5:00, M-F.

Patrons will find a large reading room with seating space for 16. Eventually the walls will be largely taken up with bookshelves holding materials most likely in demand. This will include materials about Southern, books on Connecticut history, bibliographic guides, and a range of sample “rare books” that can be handled as an introduction to bibliography. The librarian’s office will be found in a corner. The large glass windows give an aquarium effect but also discourages decoupage enthusiasts!

Beyond the reading room is a much larger space that is part-work space and part storage. Most of the shelves are moveable compact versions by Montel. These are efficient but make browsing almost impossible. Fortunately we have an efficient Technical Services division to ramp up the cataloging.

It has been a long road to get to this point and several earlier layouts have been abandoned for one reason or another. We are happy with the eventual result which was developed with the staff of Oak Park Architects. This firm was remarkable attentive to our need and made every effort to accommodate us within the parameters of difficult times. This was an experience sometimes wanting in the past. Good job Oak Park!

Buley Special Collections

Take a Sneak Peak at Our Rare Book Room: Special Collections

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Rare books

This mid-18th century work of art was created using stencils with the exception of the ornately illustrated initials, which were done by hand. A Roman breviary — a Catholic book of daily psalms, hymns, prayers, and/or lessons — the book is written in Spanish and was likely used by a Franciscan order in the Southwestern U.S., says librarian Paul Holmer, special collections and archives.

Roman breviary

Front cover of the Roman breviary.


Produced under the auspices of the Catholic Church, these books were published between 1846 and 1874. Extended moral fables and saints’ lives were common themes.

Leather hornbook from late 17th or early 18th century

A primer used for studying, this rare leather hornbook from the late 17th or early 18th century was placed on a cord so that a child could wear it.

Triple deckers

Buley Library’s special collections include numerous examples of “triple deckers,” novels printed in three volumes — a common practice in Britain during the 19th century when books were extremely expensive to publish and purchase.

Illustrated books

“Extra-illustrated” books such as this example were unbound — and then rebound with additional pages so that pictures, keepsakes, etc. could be added.

Books from Harriet Beecher Stowe

The library houses a collection devoted to Connecticut-born abolitionist and author Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote the best-selling “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” which greatly fueled the anti-slavery movement. The collection includes international translations of Stowe’s work as well as editions of her novels published throughout the years.


Considered ultra-racy for its time, “Barbarella” by French author Jean-Claude Forest was initially serialized in France’s V magazine and first published in book form in 1964. Included in the library’s collection are examples of the serialized versions as well as French and U.S. first editions of the book — an early precursor of today’s widely popular graphic novels and the basis of the cult film starring Jane Fonda.

Rare book

The Learning Commons

Located directly inside the library’s main entrance, the Learning Commons is an area on the first floor that includes a computer lab, lounge seating, email stations, a reference help desk and an Information Technology service desk.

Buley Learning Commons
Buley Learning Commons

Library Floors

Ground Floor

Art Gallery (Coming soon)
Media (Future home)
Journals, Magazines, Newspapers
SCSU Theses Collection
Special Collections
Technical Services

Buley Ground Floor

First Floor

Circulation Desk/Reserves/ILL
Reference – Info & Research Help
Learning Commons
IT Help Desk
Computer Lab
Hoot Loot Machine
Study Rooms
Reference Collection
Media (DVDs, Videos, CDs)
Reference Librarians’ Offices
Lamination/Poster Production
Library Instruction Classroom – 118 (Coming soon)
Café (Coming soon)

Buley First Floor

Second Floor

Stacks (A – PN2924)
Group Study Rooms (232, 235, 236)
Library Instruction Classroom – 242
Reading Rooms
Faculty Development (Future home)

Buley Second Floor

Third Floor

Stacks (PN2924 – Z)
Curriculum Collection
Juvenile Collections
Oversized Collection
Group Study Room – 349
Reading Rooms
Library Administration – 350
Library Science Department
Academic Success Center (Coming Fall 2015)

Buley Third Floor

Fourth Floor

IT Department
Library Administration (Future home)

Buley Fourth Floor

New Study Rooms

Six new study rooms surround the Learning Commons on the main floor of the new addition with windows overlooking the quad and the student center. The online reservation system allows you to reserve any of the ten total rooms available throughout the library.

Buley Study Rooms

A Final Word From Commander Buley.

Commander Buley is a groundhog who lived for years under the left front ramp of the library.

Buley only came out after 5:00 pm when his shift began. His duties included keeping the front grass well-trimmed and chewing on the fingers of anyone impertinent enough to pet him.

When the second phase of the renovation project began, he couldn’t take the noise and moved to the back of the building where he found a new apartment under the loading dock. When construction began back there we thought that we had lost him, but he turned up recently in the periodical section of the library reading the better journals.

Commander Buley says he likes the new building and thinks it dandy, but intends to keep it a secret from the other woodchucks since he is getting on in years and prefers the quiet. He also says you are welcome to visit him on the ground floor after five if you are very, very quiet. And you should probably bring snacks.

“Vegan, please.”

Commander Buley


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